Anwar says Pakatan in no hurry to retable Sabah, Sarawak Bill after defeat

Anwar said the component parties had not discussed their next move. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Anwar said the component parties had not discussed their next move. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — The government is in no rush to retable the Bill that would have paved the way for the restoration of Sabah and Sarawak’s original stature as federation partners after the bid was foiled yesterday, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today.

The PKR president, who is also de facto leader of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) ruling coalition, said the component parties had not discussed their next move so far.

“We haven’t discussed yet. We tried our best.

“And I think to be fair, the prime minister’s proposal was supposed to have reached a consensus and he gave a categorial assurance during the session.

“The rest we can discuss and we can also put in place a select committee.

“But we did not succeed, so we will postpone the matter first,” he told reporters in Parliament.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had tabled the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to right a 1976 wrong that demoted Sabah and Sarawak states in the Federation of Malaysia instead of partners equal to the Malay peninsula.

The government needed 148 votes for the Bill to be passed, and was 10 votes shy of that happening as the Opposition bloc, including MPs from Sabah and Sarawak, abstained from voting.

During yesterday’s seven-hour debate session, several Opposition Sarawak MPs asked for the amendment to be postponed until existing issues are cleared up, with some suggesting that it be discussed in a special parliamentary select committee first.

However, PH MPs, keeping the wellbeing of the Sabah and Sarawak residents in mind, called on the Opposition members to put aside their political differences and vote in favour of the proposed amendment.

The government has to retable the proposed amendment should it wish to pursue it.